Road-trip 2012: Part II, Canada

I’ll be the first to admit that after the tornado of craziness that was Boston & NYC, I was relieved to get back into Canada via Niagara Falls. Like, ridiculously relieved. It’s not that I was having a bad time in the States, I just took for granted how much I love where I live. Getting back into the country had an air of romance to it. The air was so refreshing, full of moisture from the falls. Everywhere we walked was so clean and the overall atmosphere was a lot calmer. There were tons of freshly planted flowers coming into bloom… there were even horse-drawn carriages! The breeze was a bit chilly but it was nice and warm out, so we wandered around a bit before calling it a night. With everything lit up, it was like a strange wonderland. I expected the falls to be beautiful, but didn’t expect all the glitz & glamour of the city to go with it.

The next day was spent taking our time exploring the area, as well as chilling inside for a bit in the afternoon. I really enjoyed our time here, but we noticed something pretty quickly; everything was at least x3 times as expensive as it was in the States! This applied to food, drinks, even ice cream. Seven dollars for a Peanut Buster Parfait? C’mon! I did, however, find a really cute Betty Boop lunch box that was a perfect size for my makeup collection.

Lights at Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Lights at Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Betty Boop makeup box, via Instagram

Betty Boop makeup box, via Instagram

We spent an evening in Ottawa, just as a stop-off on the way to Montreal. As it turned out, I would’ve preferred to have spent more time in Ottawa than in Niagara Falls. Niagara was certainly beautiful, but we saw most of what we wanted to see the evening we went out for a stroll (Tim got most of his photos then, as well). We got to Ottawa around supper time and immediately saw at least five places we wanted to stop and see downtown! I found an art supply store (Wallack’s) at 4:45pm, fifteen minutes before they closed. Tim encouraged me to go in anyway and I made a mad dash to grab things; the selection there was so much better than what I’d found in NYC! Thankfully we decided to spend the next morning, beautiful and sunny, downtown so that I could examine everything more carefully (Tim found some camera stores as well). I was able to get a lot of items from my art list there including marker bleed-proof paper, illustration boards, water brushes, a beginner copic spray gun, film-protect-ant for spray paint, wooden panels to paint on and a multitude of other goodies. We indulged in some souvlaki for lunch which was so delicious and a great summer food.

Tim & I in front of Parliment in Ottawa

Tim & I in front of Parliament in Ottawa, taken after we took another couples’ photo for them. 🙂

Montreal was nice the afternoon we arrived, but was rainy the entire next day. Rather than wander the streets in the rain like we did in Boston, and since we were starting to feel the exhaustion of the trip, we spent the day underground in the maze of malls and subways that connect everything downtown. I didn’t get to see much art but I did notice that fashion there is a much bigger deal. Almost everyone looked like they put a lot of effort into their clothes/accessories, much more so than anywhere else we’d been. Tim & I were a bit swept up in it; he got a haircut and I got a manicure (still going strong after a week AND having just cut my nails!).

Graffiti in Montreal, via Tim Lingley

Graffiti in Montreal, via Tim Lingley

One of the many malls in underground Montreal, via Tim Lingley

One of the many malls in underground Montreal, via Tim Lingley

Hot Chocolate! via Tim Lingley

Hot Chocolate! via Tim Lingley

Old Quebec was the final stop of our trip and proved to be quite a gem! I got to use some of my bilingual skills and didn’t do half badly! I understand most of what people said as long as they didn’t talk too fast, but answering them was a bit harder. Vieux Quebec was the highlight of the visit, with a ton of galleries to enjoy amongst all the wonderful architecture and food it features. Even though it was cold and rainy (again!) there were lots of places to pop into to escape the weather. The first day in Quebec we stumbled upon a midevil-themed store where I had a great french conversation with the sales girl, and I picked up a ring, one of the other items I’d wanted to buy on this trip.

Montreal Manicure & Medieval Ring from Vieux Quebec, via Instagram

Montreal Manicure & Medieval Ring from Vieux Quebec, via Instagram

158/365 - Old City Quebec by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com

158/365 – Old City Quebec by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com

158/365 – Old City Quebec by Tim Lingley

Vieux Quebec, dans le plui, via Tim Lingley

Vieux Quebec, dans le plui, via Tim Lingley

Bons bons! via Tim Lingley

Bons bons! via Tim Lingley

Even though we were only in each spot for two days or less, I got enough of a taste of everything to feel satisfied, and to know which cities I’d want to go back to. I think the next trip we take should be a relaxed sandy one, but if I had to choose one city to revisit out of what I’ve seen, I’d like to go back to Ottawa or Boston. We really enjoyed the downtown area of Ottawa and despite the fact that I’ve been there twice on my own, most of what we explored, I hadn’t seen before. Based on the size and quality of the art store, I feel like the art scene there is booming and would like to explore it more. If we went to the US again, I’d like to go back to Boston; the food was amazing everywhere we went and Newbury Street was inspiring! Honestly, Boston felt more trendy and upbeat than New York. I’d love to explore it more when it’s not cold and rainy.

It also ended up being a learning experience for both Tim & I in several ways. As we got farther into the trip, it became a taste-test of various places we may end up in the next five years. As much as I love the Maritimes and desperately want to stay here, work has not been as plentiful as we need it to be. For reasons I’m going to elaborate on, probably in the next week or two, Halifax is where I want to end up by the end of the summer. So far though, Tim hasn’t been offered any work there. We’re keeping our fingers crossed; it’s a great city just a big bigger than where we are now, not as harsh of a move as, say, Toronto would be. It might be in the cards for us to go a bit further west, though hopefully only as far as Toronto. It seems there are tons of options for both of us there.

The other thing I noticed were the differences between bigger galleries and smaller, independent ones. I loved seeing the work of the masters up close and personal, but I also really loved seeing all the new talent in the smaller galleries! Not to mention they were less crowded and most of the paintings were easier to look at. It’s very encouraging to see so many new artists with so much great work!

I thought I would feel overwhelmed looking at paintings from Dali and Van Gough, but I didn’t. Instead, I felt… not alone? It may be pretentious of me to say this, but I feel like I share something with these artists. They felt so passionately about what they did and put so much time into it, even in many cases where they saw no recognition or money from it. They were sometimes labeled as crazy or were simply dismissed. But they did it anyway, because when you feel passionate enough about something to the point where you can feel it in your core, there just isn’t anything else. It’s comforting to know that the feeling I get when I paint or draw, when I’m really in the thick of it and I’m not listening to the background music or thinking about the clock or anything else, others share this. The feelings I get when I look at paintings, whether I’m overwhelmed, overjoyed, euphoric or saddened… it’s like I can connect with the artist on some level.

Special thanks to hubby Tim Lingley for taking all the amazing photos during our trip! He purchased a new lens before we left and has certainly put it to good use.

All Tuckered Out

All Tuckered Out (and glad to see our kitties!)

Whew! I’m very glad to be back home though and finally able to use this inspiration I’ve been gathering over the past two weeks! Back to normal blog posts on Friday, starting with a progress post on what I’ve been doing since I got back.

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Road-trip 2012: Part I, US

What a whirlwind of adventure I’ve had over the past two weeks! Where to begin? The roadtrip I took with my husband was pretty well all-encompassing, with visits to outdoors-y places as well as concrete jungles. We started out by driving down through the White Mountains of NH where we stayed at a quaint small cabin for a few days. Seeing the white-capped mountains for the first time was so surreal. Most of the mountains I’ve seen are green or brown; these were out of a fairy tale.

White Mountains, NH (via instagram)

White Mountains, NH (via instagram)

Coliseum Falls, NH

Coliseum Falls, NH

It was one of the most relaxing parts of the trip; the fresh air, the beautiful scenery and the crisp weather was rejuvenating and prepared us for the bustling that would take place over the next week. We did tons of hiking, taking in lots of nature and the many waterfalls scattered throughout the area (we hiked to half a dozen or so).  The weather was prefect for hiking; lots of sun to guide our way and a nice refreshing cold breeze to keep us on our toes.  After unwinding in the mountains, it was onto Boston, with one stop at the Currier Art Museum in Massachusetts.

Cappuccinos at Currier Art Museum

Cappuccinos at Currier Art Museum

Currier Art Museum, cafe (via instagram)

Currier Art Museum, cafe (via instagram)

Our visit to this gallery was very pleasant; it’s just the right size that you’re able to explore the entire gallery in an afternoon without feeling overwhelmed. Since we were there during the day, it wasn’t overly crowded. The cafe offered more-than-reasonably-priced meals and absolutely stunning mosaics to behold while we relaxed. There were a few pieces from Monet and several other well-known artists, with some modern art to enjoy as well. I highly recommend going if you’re in the area.

Getting into the first of our “Big Cities” was a bit stressful, but in the end we found our Sommerville B&B. It was cold and rainy the entire day we spent in Boston, but we donned our raincoats and ventured out into the wet anyway. Despite the rain, Tim managed to get some lovely photos of the city and we really enjoyed walking around, taking in all the parks and sights.

Tulips in Boston (via Tim Lingley)

Tulips in Boston (via Tim Lingley)

Outside Boston Public Library (via Tim Lingley)

Outside Boston Public Library (via Tim Lingley)

We found our way to Newbury Street, which according to my research was supposed to be a really nice shopping spot. It turned out to be better than that, with lovely cafes, designer fashion spots and tons of independent galleries! The modern art on display in these galleries was truly inspiring and I plan to dedicate a handful of future entries to the artists we discovered while there. This street was one of the highlights of the trip for me. It had so much to behold and so many exciting opporitunities.

After walking all over Boston and ducking into the mall for a bit to escape the rain, we enjoyed a delicious supper in Little Italy and treated ourselves to some goodies at Mike’s Pastry (chocolate cheesecake, we ate it too fast for photos). Then it was back to the room to prepare for our journey to NYC.

Plymouth (via Tim Lingley)

Plymouth (via Tim Lingley)

It’s worth noting that we stopped in Plymouth on the way to New York; it was a lovely spot to stretch your legs, especially if you enjoy sea food! It had a very nice downtown area with cafes that made delicious Mochas. I wish we’d had the chance spent more time there, but it already set us back a few hours and we had to get going to make it to Newark before dark… which we didn’t end up doing. D’oh!

NYC (via Tim Lingley)

NYC (via Tim Lingley)

As I expected it to be, New York was a blur of lights and sound. Skyscrapers filled every horizon. People hustled and bustled and traffic was insane for most of the day. Thank goodness for public transit! It felt similar to Toronto, but taken to a whole new level of busy. It wasn’t hard to navigate the city but there was so much to see that it became a bit overwhelming. We got to MoMA and spent a few hours pouring over paintings from the masters including Gough, Dali, Monet, Picasso and Warhol among MANY others, but since there was so much there, we didn’t get to see it all.

Starry Night for real! (via Tim Lingley)

Starry Night for real! (via Tim Lingley)

Though I enjoyed seeing all the prestigious paintings, the biggest surprise for me in MoMA was Monet’s work; I had no idea they were so large (Water Lillies in particular)! Seeing his paintings fill an entire wall was incredible! I tried to grasp how you’d paint something so large and how much “stepping back” you’d have to do. It made me rethink how’d he paint, what tools and techniques he’d use.

Outside MoMA, an artist was doing portraits in oils:

Outside the MoMA (via Tim Lingley)

Outside the MoMA (via Tim Lingley)

One of the great things about visiting larger cities was the book stores! I was able to pick up two art books I’d been pining over that weren’t available in Canada (or were priced outrageously here, the dollar is at par, guys): 1000 Ideas by 100 Manga Artists, Hunt & Gather: Discovering New Art. I could’ve spent hours in the book stores alone as the art sections were so huge, but eventually we had to move on. I was expecting to fine some awesome or rare art supply stores in Boston and NYC, but we didn’t have much luck. We did trek a pretty long way in NYC to check out the Central Art Supply store but despite the size of the place, they didn’t have much of a different selection compared to what we have here in NB.

153/365 - Busy City Street in NYC by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com
153/365 – Busy City Street in NYC by Tim Lingley

As much as I loved and was inspired by the Big Cities, I don’t think I could live there long term. The entire time I was there, I had this feeling in the back of my mind telling me to watch my back, mind my purse, etc. There weren’t any areas that I felt really unsafe in, but I still felt a bit apprehensive for most of the time. Pretty well everyone we interacted with was very nice, though! There was very little of the rudeness that I’ve heard so much about.

The first week of our trip was a great taste of the States: a mix of nature and city, both extremes. Given the choice, I’d go back to Boston first just to continue down Newbury Street to explore more of their galleries. Though NYC had a lot to offer, I felt that Boston was a trendier place to be.

Since this is getting a bit lengthy, I’ll keep the Canadian part of our trip to the next entry. See you then, starting at Niagara Falls!